CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Gary Mayor Rudy Clay, who revealed more than two years ago that he was suffering from prostate cancer, has died.

The exact cause of his death was not immediately known

Clay’s successor, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, issued a statement on Tuesday, saying: “On behalf of the city and citizens of Gary, I would like to express my condolences to Mrs. Christine Clay, Mr. Rudy Clay, Jr. and the entire Clay family in the loss of Mayor Rudy Clay.

“He was an icon in the community whose political service spanned decades. His heart for the citizens of Gary, Indiana will be remembered and cherished for years to come.”

In April 2011, about a month before the mayoral primary, Clay suspended his campaign for re-election

At the time, Clay said he was taking the advice of his doctors and was stepping down to avoid further harm to his health.

Clay, 77, first won election as mayor in 2007 and was planning to seek a second term.

A political stalwart in heavily Democratic Lake County, Clay became the first black to serve as county Democratic chairman in 2005, and party leaders appointed him mayor in 2006.

He was elected to a full term the following year. His official biography says he was the first African-American elected to the Indiana Senate in 1972, serving one term, and was a longtime county commissioner.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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